TN: Declare ‘Caste Atrocity-Prone’ Districts in State, Demands NGO
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Chennai: In the backdrop of an alarming rise in the number of crimes against members of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) various organisations and political parties have demanded immediate intervention of the Tamil Nadu government
The incidents, particularly in schools, are raising concerns over whether there is a rise in casteist attitudes among children.
Among the recent incidents, a 16-year-old dalit boy in Pudukottai district died by suicide after he was assaulted by a dominant caste schoolmate for speaking with an upper caste Hindu girl. On November 3, V Vishnu Kumar, a class 11 student, who belonged to the Paraiyar community, was assaulted with casteist slurs by his schoolmate who belongs to the dominant Kallar community. Upset over the incident, the dalit student died by suicide a few hours later in his house in Koppampatti of Kulathoor block.
A week ago, on October 30, two SC youths were allegedly assaulted, stripped and urinated on by six persons of an intermediate caste at Thachanallur in Tirunelveli district. The victims said they had gone to the river on Monday evening to take a bath when a group started attacking them. After learning that they were dalits, the group intensified the attack, and also snatched silver jewellery and cell phones from the victims, it was alleged.
Following these recent incidents, and other continuing incidents, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Pudukottai should be declared as ‘caste atrocity-prone’ districts, demanded A Kathir, executive director, Evidence, a Madurai based NGO that works for the protection and promotion of dalit and tribal rights.
The Vengaivayal incident in Pudukkottai district, where faeces was found in a tank that provided drinking water to dalits in the village, reported last year, has dragged on, without any firm action taken so far, he said. While the government had formed a Commission to probe the incident, no one has been held accountable to date.
Three months ago, the murderous attack on a dalit student and his sister in Nanguneri, Tirunelveli district, caused a shock in Tamil Nadu.
DALIT HOUSES ATTACKED IN KRISHNAGIRI
A mob comprising members of the dominant intermediate community, allegedly supported by local AIADMK functionaries, vandalised an SC hamlet in Sokkadi Village in Krishnagiri on October 29.
More than 200 people belonging to the dominant community reportedly barged into the residences of the SC people with weapons and brutally assaulted them by breaking houses, setting fire and pelting stones. Many people were injured in the attack and underwent treatment at the hospital. The attack followed SC people raising concerns over increased dust particles from granite stones polishing for a temple built by the intermediate castes.
The Director of National Commission for Scheduled Castes S Ravivarman inspected Sokkadi village and interacted with the victims on the happenings of that day.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) brought the issue to light. In a statement dated November 2, the party said “besides taking action against the persons involved in the attack under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, the district administration should take appropriate measures to establish a peaceful situation in the village.”
‘GOVTS MUST INTERVENE’
The Dalit Intellectual Collective on Saturday urged chief minister MK Stalin to convene an all-party meeting. In a statement, the organisation’s convenor, C Lakshmanan, said the “unabated atrocities” against dalits in the State were not merely a law and order problem, but also “hate politics by caste Hindus”.
Violence against dalits has been normalised and now formed a part of Tamil Nadu’s “political culture” because of which any solution to casteist atrocities should be political as well, he added.
According to the statement, these incidents exposed the “ugly truth” behind the “much-hyped social justice in Tamil Nadu”, and though a lot of money had been spent on judicial commissions for probing into such incidents, no concrete action had been taken.
Kathir, of Evidence NGO, said the state government had failed to prevent such atrocities. “Caste-based atrocities have been on a rise in Tamil Nadu, especially in the past two years, with the number of such cases increasing from 1,200 to 1,400 a year, to 2,000 cases a year,” Kathir said.
Additionally, the Coordination Committee for Dalit Rights urged the Union government to fulfil certain demands. Such as, a legislation should be enacted so that the Scheduled Caste people also get their due share in public property. It should be ensured that the lands allotted to the Scheduled Tribes remain with them, they demanded. Child labour must be eradicated, they added.
The committee also said SCs should be represented in government procurement, contracts and businesses. Caste oppression in educational institutions should be stopped, they insist. The committee has initiated a signature campaign across the country and plans to hand over their demands to the President.
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